In September of 1977, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory began the Voyager 1 mission. Still returning data, Voyager 1 is nearly 15 billion miles from Earth, deep into interstellar space. On board Voyager 1 is a Golden Record, containing greetings in 55 languages, pictures of people and places on Earth, and 27 diverse musical selections including Beethoven, a Raga from India, and a blues by Chuck Berry. The Golden Record announces the presence of a musical species in the cosmos. The record’s inscription reads: “To the makers of music, all worlds / all times.” On 31 November 2020, NASA scientists received an unexpected radio transmission. The signal contained assembly instructions for what appears to be a musical instrument. Apparently an alien intelligence has received the Golden Record, interpreted it, and responded in kind. Help NASA scientists decipher what the aliens are trying to share about music!
Video Intro (1:30)
NASA programmers made the Chromawheel Play app based on the instructions received in the alien transmission. Tap a note name to hear it. Tap 'edit' to add or remove window pieces. Tap the play button to hear a pattern. Drag in the center to rotate
ACTION STEP: Read carefully!
ACTION STEPS ARE WRITTEN IN CAPS BECAUSE THEY ARE IMPORTANT. Reading and completing action steps carefully will help you correctly answer the questions that follow
ACTION STEP: Place window pieces on all 7 of the basic letter notes: A, B, C, D, E, F and G
If you are using the Chromawheel Play app, click or tap "edit" and then click or tap a note to add a window piece
Looking at the shape made by the notes A, B, C, D, E, F and G, the scientists quickly noticed that the spacing between the notes is not even. The shape is asymmetrical. Which of the following notes are "touching"?
[B C] and [E F]
Which of these note pairs has a single empty space between the two notes?
Scientists decided to call the distance between two notes that are touching a "half step". They decided to call the distance between two notes that have a single empty space between them a "whole step". What would you have called these two distances if you were a scientist?
After much debate, the NASA experts decided to use the term "interval" to refer to the distance between two notes
What note one whole step above A? (Remember, go clockwise on the Chromawheel to ascend)
What note is a half step interval below C?
Congrats, you're up to date with the NASA team in their attempts to interpret the alien instrument Chromawheel! You are now familiar with the basic layout of the instrument, and also with the concept of intervals between notes. Please let the researchers know if you have questions or ideas!
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